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Are There Illegal Internet Search Terms?

You can search pretty much whatever you want online -- searching for information is not a crime. But certain searches are monitored and certain words will trigger suspicion and investigations, and if you engage in illegal activity online, that is a crime.

You can search the words "kiddie porn" for example -- how else will you find information on the topic? -- but you absolutely cannot download the stuff. People can and do get arrested for their illegal online activities. But it's important to distinguish between suspicious searches and illegal activities. Googling the word "murder" does not make you a killer, and this principle extends to terror, porn, and more.

Every time you turn around, some company or the government is getting hacked. Or someone you know is having their credit card information or entire identity stolen.

From accessing a computer without permission to stealing personal information and online bullying, there are a range of computer crimes that are often collectively referred to as "hacking." So what are the possible penalties if hackers get caught?

'Tis the season for furiously clicking that "Track Package" button in sales confirmation emails. Whether you're worried about outgoing gifts making it to their destination on time or excited about an incoming present, tracking a package online can become a daily or even hourly obsession.

And it can get you arrested, if you happen to be tracking a package full of drugs from China.

Over the weekend, University of Illinois Chicago engineering student Jabari Dean took to the comments section of a hip hop culture website and threatened to shoot students and staff at the University of Chicago. That threat led the FBI to close the school's campus Monday, and led to Dean's arrest the same day.

It's a reminder that law enforcement takes online threats seriously, especially when they involve campus shootings.

Is It Illegal to Join Anonymous?

It is not illegal to join Anonymous because you cannot join. Officially, there is nothing to join, although the collective does provide instructions on joining.

Confused? That's because you're supposed to be. Anonymous is a collective of computer coders, hackers, protesters, and geeks who are loosely linked on the web and are, well, anonymous. They do not use their real names. But Anonymous does instruct on affiliation, and following these instructions is not illegal per se.

Is Plagiarism a Crime?

It's exam season, and many students out there will be tempted to pass off someone else's term paper as their own. And in the Internet age, copying and pasting has made plagiarism even easier. At the same time, Google searches have made catching plagiarists easier as well. So if you get caught plagiarizing someone else's work, are you going to jail?

Well, that depends on the context -- what were you plagiarizing and why? What were you trying to do with the plagiarized work? If you were trying to score an "A" on an exam, maybe not. If you were trying to score a job, maybe so. Let's take a look:

Florida is famous for, among other things, its expansive Sunshine Laws, some of the most permissive in the country when it comes to access to public records. That's why you get so many amazing mugshots to go with those weird Florida Man stories.

But these are just people who've been arrested. What if they didn't do it? What if they're never convicted of a crime, and their mugshots are now up on the Internet forever? How is it legal for states and police departments (and private companies) to publish mugshots before a person is declared guilty?

A female student diversity officer at the University of London has been charged with making racially motivated malicious communications after she tweeted using the hashtag #killallwhitemen. Bahar Mustafa, who works in the Students' Union of Goldsmiths, allegedly used the hashtag on her since-deleted Twitter account.

Mustafa had sparked a controversy by asking straight white men not to attend an event for black and ethnic minority students in April. She's now facing a possible six months in jail for the tweets.

The web is celebrated for cultivating an increased sense of connection. But a new study shows that added online access leads to more fracturing in real life. Racially charged hate crimes go up as broadband access expands.

But there is a very important caveat. The correlation between increased internet access and spikes in hate crimes is much stronger in places that are already racially segregated, according to academics from NYU's Stern School of Business and the University of Minnesota. "Counties that have higher racial tendencies tend to have a higher effect," study co-author Jason Chan told Ars Technica.

Homeless Man Scammed by Fake Lease on Craigslist

A homeless man in Memphis, trying to get back on his feet, got a bittersweet taste of the milk of human kindness after he fell for a scam ad on Craigslist and was saved by a sympathetic landlord. Anthony Owens found an apartment listed online and met with an impostor apartment owner, turning over a $100 deposit fee to the stranger.

Owens had been living in a friend's van, but when he tried to move in to his newly rented apartment, lease in hand, he discovered he had no apartment or contract after all. The man Owens thought was his new landlord was a deadbeat tenant, according to Glenda Glinsey, the actual property owner.